How The 'Atomic Blonde' Movie Disappointed Me As A Feminist In 2017


I went to see Atomic Blonde with a purse full of pre-bought snacks and high hopes for the movie, which stars Charlize Theron, an actress I've adored since Mighty Joe Young. Quite honestly, me and my snacks probably would have showed up to theaters no matter what woman starred in it because I live for a movie that involves a lead female character who kicks butt so well that it makes me emotional. That's why I dug films like MaleficentSalt, ColombianaTomb Raider, Foxy Brown, The Hunger Games, etc.

But, I left Atomic Blonde at the one hour and 20-minute mark after I realized that female characters in 2017 deserve way more than what they poured into Theron's character, Agent Lorraine Broughton.

In a world where women have to fight to be accepted, considered equal, and to be headstrong, I'm not into a film that limits a female lead character the way Atomic Blonde limited Broughton. For starters, Broughton basically had no personal life. The film never explained who she was outside of her being an agent, which everyone already knew based on the trailer and the film's overall premise. It was as if she existed in this vacuum and had no layers whatsoever.

Without giving you spoilers, I'll write that by the end of the film, you know as much about the lead character as you did when you started. The audience gets no information about her family, friends, wants, non-sexual desires, or even her personality.

What I do know about Agent Lorraine Broughton? She has a killer wardrobe, few emotions, can kick butt in high stilettos, and even use them as a weapon, smokes cigarettes in this sexy way, bathes in ice, has an impromptu romp session with a woman she caught stalking her, and has an impressive wig collection.

In other words, this is what I know of the character beyond the generic surface level:

The film has minimal dialogue, lots of plot holes, and plenty of noteworthy fight scenes. I felt like Charlize Theron was there to pull off great stunt scenes and be a sexy Atomic Blonde, which she could have done more effectively with a spread in Vogue. Even the intimacy she shares with the female agent who was following her has little to no depth, and felt like a token representation of the LGBTQ+ community.

In 2017, female lead characters should be well-rounded, nuanced, and interesting. And if a film is going to create a stone-hearted, one-dimensional seeming character, then at least allow the plot to explain why she is that way à la Maleficent. In the Disney film, starring Angelina Jolie, we get to see her icy personality but the plot offers a reason why: She's had her magical wings taken and been abandoned by a man she loved and thought loved her. Viewers also get to see a real trajectory since Maleficent doesn't stay an emotionless queen with no explanation throughout the entire movie.

Atomic Blonde accomplished none of that, in my opinion.

And I wasn't the only one who felt they got left hanging at Atomic Blonde screenings.

That last tweet nearly reflects my exact words as I stepped out of the theater and headed to my car. I was so excited to watch the film, especially since its trailer was so similar to the new Proud Mary film, starring Taraji P. Henson.

Atomic Blonde was a missed opportunity, and that's a shame because 2017 has been a great year for female-led films and an overall big year for women's rights in general.

Sigh. I guess I'll get to express my Charlize Theron stanhood the next go 'round.